I'm always get in trouble to get a new word, because I really don't have a good memory. So I have been thinking about how I used to do in my own language when I was a child. But I certainly can't remember how I used to do it, too hahah but then, I can connect this ideas, and I realize that I usually remember by images. Or sometimes I fragment this word into twice little images to get the entire word. Sounds as if it was a double work, wasn't it ? But i think it's like logograms, you know, like chinese characters or kanjis. Actually, it's fun to do this. It's a little frustrating because in a few cases I only get the image without his meaning :P As well, I can remember this process from a repeated writing, like a kinetic memory. May be doing sentences with these new words works to learn it,too. I have been reading, but c'mon, how do you do it? (:
You should not learn a word, rather learn a sentence in which this word has been used, because you learn a word to use it into sentences (convey a meaningful message). You don't need any notes or pictures (may be only at the beginnig). The place where the word should be is your mind, not a piece of paper.
Have you tried using flash cards ? I use Anki to make flash cards with photos , sounds and examples and it did make a difference . I've always thought that I've a bad memory but guess what I was wrong . I just didn't know how to train it well . Anki is free application and you can open it from any device pc , tablet or mobile and even from the site it self . After days of using it you will find yourself revising like 100 word in 10 minutes or maybe less I'd recommend Anki to anybody. So give it a go.